It's surprising to find yourself, or something you've written, as a source for part of a famous dead poet’s biography. Especially a famous dead poet with an exotic, volcanic life. I’m speaking of Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891). I wrote an essay for a magazine about Rimbaud's time late in his short life as a coffee trader in Ethiopia, about how he got there, unlikely as that was. I was thinking about writing something else about Rimbaud recently, so I promptly went to everyone’s convenient source of choice, Wikipedia. Lo and behold, there it is, citation number 72, a reference to the article I'd written twenty-one years ago and nearly forgotten.
Wow! What a fascinating story - I had no idea!
Richard, Thanks for introducing me to Rimbaud, whose name I’d heard only in passing. What a fascinating character. He comes to life in your few paragraphs. He sounds as if he’d be an interesting companion with whom to share a cup of coffee-Ethiopian, of course. I bet another story is how you came to develop a fascination for this fiery person. Thanks for your essays. Gratefully, Ken Chumbley
In high school, I read "Axel and Rimbaud." Trying to remember why and what it was. And who wrote it. Maybe Edmund Wilson or Mary McCarthy.
Well rendered, Richard. I've always thought Bob Dylan is the reincarnation of Rimbaud. Some of their lines are inscrutable. Dylan wrote about a “gray-flannel dwarf.” And what are “four-legged forest clouds”? And “They shaved her head/She was torn between Jupiter and Apollo.” Whereas Rimbaud's poetry was fueled by absinthe, Dylan dabbled in his own provocative elixirs. I wonder if it was worth the price they paid. For Rimbaud, a short life with a touch of insanity; for Dylan, a Nobel he didn't want.